We were lucky enough to see the Aurora Borealis three times when we were there. Twice it was only a faint, yellowish-green glow, shaped like a kind of rainbow, arched just above the horizon from one side to the other.

But once it was truly spectacular: the northern lights where bright green, with several moving shapes trying to escape from a long band of coloured green. The bizarre thing is that there is no sound; you hear nothing. With such stunning views you expect additional spectacular sounds, like a firework or something, but there’s almost an eerie silence…

All you hear are the people around you who are trying to get the perfect shot, just like you, which is not the easiest thing in the world. There is almost always just a little too much light, either in the distance, or closebye, or people around you are using flash photography (which, incidentally, does not work at all, really!). To be honest, the shouts and (sometimes) curses of those around taking photos, can take some of the magic away, but by moving a few yards away, this is easily solved.

Our photos of the Northern Lights:

Northern Lights:

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis or Pole Light, is a natural phenomenon that can sometimes be observed during clear nights in the areas of the Arctic Circle, in the spring between the months of February and March or in autumn in September and October.

The Northern Lights occur when large amounts of charged particles are hurled into space from explosions on the sun, as shown in the images from NASA below:

The earth’s magnetic field causes the particles to penetrate the atmosphere at high speed and under the right conditions deflects some of them at the north and south poles.
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Aurora BorealisThe charged particles from the Sun contain a lot of energy which is transferred when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen molecules. That energy is then released and emitted high into the the atmosphere in the form of colored aurora, above 80km altitude, and sometimes as high as up to 1000 km altitude. The color of the light depends on the angle of impact and can vary from yellow, green, purple, blue, pink and even red.
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How can I observe the Northern Lights?:

You need to have a little luck to observe the northern lights, because you are dependant upon a number of factors:
1. A plasma cloud needs to be catapulted into space in the direction of earth, 2 to 5 days earlier, as shown in the movie above.
2. The magnetic field of the Earth must be tilted in such a way, so that the aurora can be visible in the place where you are standing, at the moment that the charged particles reach Earth’s atmosphere.
3. It must be a clear night, with no clouds, rain, hail or snow, so that you have a good view of the clear sky, during the day, the Aurora Borealis cannot be seen, due to the sun light. In the picture above it can only be observed in Mongolia, China, Siberia, etc.
4. There should be little or no light influence in the vacinity of where you are; near towns and cities there is often too much light pollution to see the Pole light.

Tip: Make sure you have a tripod or something you can put camera on, while taking pictures with a slow shutter speed (e.g. over 25 seconds).
Tip: You’re outside, in Lapland, above the Arctic Circle, probably in the middle of the night taking pictures. Make sure you wear plenty of warm clothing, thermal underwear, warm boots and perhaps most importantly, thin gloves with warm mittens over them! While waiting you can leave your mittens on, to make sure your hands keep warm (a thermos flask with hot coffee or tea can also come in handy), then, if the aurora starts, you can take the mittens off temporarily in order to take pictures.

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